The Sussex ambulance service has thanked the public for its ongoing support as demand for NHS services remains high.
South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) executive director of operations Joe Garcia said: “Following a very challenging week with the severe weather, we continue to face very high demand.
In four days from March 2 to 5, the trust handled 13,149 calls – close to 1,500 more than the equivalent four-day period last week when it handled 11,658 calls.
“This increase in activity is potentially linked to people suffering the effects of the colder weather now.
“We are working hard to prioritise our response to our most seriously ill and injured patients.
“We are taking longer to reach patients who are not in a serious condition and those who are not facing a serious or life-threatening emergency may be asked to seek alternatives to an ambulance response.”
“We know that this is not ideal but we have a duty to ensure that we are doing all we can for patients facing serious and life-threatening emergencies and we would ask for the public’s understanding and support during this time.
“When it’s not an emergency the alternatives include calling NHS 111, booking a GP appointment or speaking to a pharmacist.
“I would like to thank all our staff and volunteers for their continued hard work and professionalism during this challenging time.”
SECAmb is urging people to remember to seek alternatives to 999 if they are not facing a life-threatening or serious emergency and is prioritising its response to patients with the greatest need.
It comes as the Royal County Hospital in Brighton declared a critical incident because it was full:
Western Sussex Hospitals Trust, which runs hospitals in Chichester, Worthing and Shoreham, also said it was very busy this week: